What Would You Choose?

When the students at Chickering School are in the third grade, they may choose band or reporters for part of their fourth grade curriculum. If students decide to join band they have a choice between these instruments:  trumpet, saxophone, flute, trombone, percussion, clarinet and french horn.

Band meets once a week for practice and their homework is to use Smart Music, (an App that helps you practice). Mr. Galligan is able to hear, through the App, the musician’s practice.

In May, Chickering School has Arts Night and the fourth grade band performs, for the first time, as part of the concert.

Some students may choose reporters, while their classmates are attending band. The reporters meet in the library once a week with Mrs. Chase. They collaborate with each other about choosing a topic and reporting about what is happening in the school. The students decide what media tool to use for their projects such as: interviews, surveys, photos and/or videos. Homework depends upon what projects they are working on at the time. We do a lot of writing regardless of the media tools we use. We publish to the world via our Blog called Chickering Reports.

We decided to survey the fourth grade to see why people chose band or reporters. We brainstormed questions for the survey. And used Google forms to create our survey.

73 of 87 – 4th grade students completed the survey which is 84% of the grade. First we inquired what they chose.

Pie chart showing 61% of the students chose band and 34% chose reporters.

As you can see 61% of the students who responded chose band and 34% chose reporters.



If they chose band, we asked why. Of the 47 students, 12 did not answer this question; 24 replied that they like music and learning how to play an instrument; 5 said they were interested in playing the flute; and 1 each replied looking A typical fourth grade band class.forward to playing the trumpet, loves percussion, heard it was fun, wants to learn a new instrument, liked listening to other students play their instruments, and didn’t want to do reporters.

We were curious to know which instrument the fourth grade band students chose.

Bar graph showing the instrument choices. The favorite was the trumpet.

Why did band students choose these instruments, we asked. Of the 47 band students who answered the survey, 1 did not answer, 30 said they liked the sound their instrument made, 2 thought it was cool, 3 said their brother could help them, 2 liked percussion, 3 wanted to try something new, 2 said they liked the flute, 1 said trombone because it had no keys, 1 said they liked the trumpet, and one didn’t know what to do so they chose percussion.

Next we decided to ask the band students if they have homework or not. We gave them three choices: yes, no, or sometimes. Out of the 47 band students, 30 said yes, 16 said sometimes, and 1 said no.

34% chose reporters. We were curious to know A typical reporter class working with ChromeBooks.why they chose reporters over band. There were a lot of unique and unusual answers. 5 said reporters because it is fun, 4 said they didn’t want play an instrument or play a new one, 4 said their interested in technology and interviewing, 3 said they liked to do projects, 2 said they liked typing, 1 said they liked to make videos, 1 because they didn’t want to carry an instrument, 1 – their friends do it, 1 liked reading and writing, 1 wanted to see what it was like, 1 didn’t know, and one didn’t answer.

We also asked the 27 reporter students if they had homework or not. 23 students answered sometimes, 2 said yes, and the last two said no.

We were curious about what projects each 4th grade reporter groups chose.

Chat showing first 4th grade Reporter projects.We were interested to see why students participated in either band or reporters. Surprisingly, half of us thought there would be more reporters than band. We were disappointed that we didn’t hear back from 16% of the students. Clearly, the data shows that the students like having a choice between band (66%) and reporters (34%).

Reported by Beatrice, Neal, Bella, and Ronan

A Bodacious Band

“Let’s play Chaton Canon again from measure 52,” Mrs. Barry said, as the band Mrs. Barry Conducting Chanton Canon, a song 4th grade band plays.began playing Chanton Canon on her command. All the band students were on the stage, and Mrs. Barry was on her conductor podium, purposefully waving her baton. This was the one of the group practices of band before Arts Nights. The whole cafeteria was practically vibrating with music.

We wanted to find out more about the band at Chickering School. We had a fascinating chat with Mrs. Barry, and we also interviewed some band students, to learn information about homework, music, and the instruments.

We thought it would be nice to know why Mrs.Barry wanted to do her job. Why did she chose to be a band teacher? She wanted “to follow in my mom’s footsteps.” Her mom was a music teacher.  It can also be hard for a teacher, teaching a band. “What is the most challenging thing about being a band teacher?” we asked.  “There are many different instruments, all instruments are different and I have to help them all. It is tricky to teach different instruments,” she said.

4th grade band practicing on the stage in the cafeteria.We were curious to know what instruments the fourth grade students could play. Mrs. Barry shared, the flute, trombone, alto sax, trumpet, baritone, percussion and the oboe bassoon are all the instruments 4th graders may choose from. “The instruments that 5th graders play are easier when you have played the 4th grade instruments,” responded Mrs. Barry. We wondered what the students’ homework was like. They use a website, called SmartMusic. It can be used on an iPad or a computer. These devices record their playing and the software grades them and tells them how they did. One student said, “it is very stressful” and two others shared, “It can be frustrating when the technology glitches.”

We wanted to find out why the students decided to play band. Did they have other music experience?  We interviewed 6 students, Mrs. Barry conducting the 4th grade band.and we asked each of them why did they choose band. The six students were Jade, Erica, Abby D., Meredith, Grant, and Antonio. Antonio and Grant stated that they thought it would be fun to be able to learn and play an instrument. Neither of them had played an instrument before, except for learning the recorder in 3rd grade, which was part of the curriculum. Meredith wanted to contribute to the band, knowing she will be part of a team. Abby had never learned an instrument before, and saw the chance of knowing what it was like by joining the 4th grade band. Erica noted that she had played the recorder in 3rd grade like everyone else, but she wanted to learn another instrument. Jade already played the piano, and she knew from experience that learning a new instrument was cool and exciting, while she didn’t know what being reporter was like, which was the other option.

Everyone choose band for a different reason, but now we are left with another question. What instrument did they choose, why did they choose that instrument, and is that instrument hard to play? Jade and Abby plays the clarinet. Image showing the clarinet and percussion sections of the band. Jade thinks that the clarinet is hard to assemble, and that after a while, she runs out of air so it is hard to make a sound. Abby doesn’t really think that the instrument is really hard. Grant plays the trumpet, and he explained that the trumpet is a low instrument, and so it is hard to play high notes. Antonio plays the trombone, and he choose the instrument because it look fun to play. He also noted that it is not hard to play. Meredith plays the saxophone. “Because it was similar to the recorder,” Meredith said  “It is not hard to play.” Erica plays the flute, because her grandmother had also played the flute, and so she followed her grandmother’s footsteps. She said that at first, it was hard to get your mouth into the right position, but later, it became easier.

We wanted to learn about the band student’s favorite piece, and genre of music. Everyone answered Chanton Canon,  and Let’s Go Band, which will be played at Art’s Night. Most people liked Pop music, and a couple liked Country music.

We learned so much about the band. As reporters, we didn’t know anything about band, and what it was like to be playing an instrument in a group. Mrs. Barry seated, talking to the 4th grade band students.It was also fun to watch the team play together, practicing for Art’s Night. We had wondered what it was like to be in band, and by interviewing some band students, we were able to find out some ideas about what band students thought about band.


Reported by: Valentina, Makenna and Alexander R.


Fabulous 5th Grade Jazz Band

5th grade jazz band performing in the cafeteria.We were hearing music all around the school. We wondered what it was. We  listened to the beautiful sounds of the trumpets, piano and drums and even more instruments. We decided to investigate where the sound was coming from and discovered it was Mrs. Berry and the Jazz Band! We thought we would interview Mrs. Barry to learn more

We wondered why Chickering School has a Jazz Band. She shared, “I wanted to allow 5th grade kids who wanted to have more of a musical challenge and to improvise, to play that style of music.” Mrs. Barry wanted the students to be prepared for 6th grade if they wanted to play for the Jazz Band, called the Eclipse.

We have been hearing all the instruments together. Picture highlighting the instruments played in the Jazz band.But, we couldn’t tell what instruments they were playing. So we asked Mrs. Barry what instruments they played. She shared,  “All the instruments in the regular band, from flutes all the way down to trombones and everything in between. We also get to add, guitar, piano and drum set.”

Then we wandered how Mrs. Barry got all the instruments for Jazz band. She quoted “Well, Luckily I didn’t have to buy anything; a lot of it was already here. Before I came to Chickering we already had a great drum set. All the other instruments the kids either the kids provide them or rent them, Yeah, so luckily we don’t have to buy anything.”

We wondered how many students were in the Jazz Band.  She shared, “I’d say we have about twenty-five kids in the Jazz Band.”

Who plays in the Jazz Band and is there a limit to the number kids who may play in the Jazz Band? She answered “We have only fifth graders and there’s really no limit, I keep it open. It’s not an audition group, it’s for anybody who wants to do it. It is a little challenge because we meet before school, unfortunately some students that it might just be a little tricky for them to get here but we try to work out a carpool if we need but there’s really no limit.” 

We wondered how Mrs. Barry decides what music to play in the Jazz Band. She relayed, “Well, I like to pick a Rock piece or, of course, a Jazz piece, so one that is fun to play has more syncopated rhythms but ones that I know that the students can play because this music is more challenging and I want to be sure I don’t pick something that is too hard for them to be able to do. Sometimes I have to adjust a little bit depending on what I pick.”

We wanted to know if she played in a Jazz Band when she was a student.  She said “I did play in a Jazz Band when I was in Middle School and when I was in High School. And I played piano.”

What was her favorite piece of music. She shared, “I remember playing Twenty-Five or Six to Four by Chicago that was one we really liked to play. And there was another one named, Weekend in Monaco and we played that at the high school and that was a really fun piece.”

When we left school, we thought the music was so good. We could listen to it again, a thousand times over and over!!!